Riyadh governor opens high-profile Saudi economic forum

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Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar speaks during the three-day Riyadh Economic Forum. (AN photo/Yazeed  Al-Samrani)
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Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar during the three-day Riyadh Economic Forum. (AN photo/Yazeed  Al-Samrani)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Riyadh governor opens high-profile Saudi economic forum

RIYADH: A high-profile conference to tackle some of the main challenges facing the Saudi economy was on Tuesday opened by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

Speaking at the opening session of the influential three-day Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), the prince praised the Saudi business community for its cooperation with the government in helping to strengthen the country’s economic fortunes.

The ninth edition of the forum, being held under the title “Human-Centered Economy,” will discuss some of the key future economic issues confronting the Kingdom.

Thanking King Salman for his patronage of the event, vice chairman of Riyadh Chamber and chairman of the forum’s board of trustees, Hamad Al-Shuwaier, said important recommendations linked to the Vision 2030 plan would be announced during the gathering.

These would be related to the areas of public finance reform, the nonprofit sector, future jobs, the environment, and reverse migration.

“What distinguishes the forum, which serves as a research center for national issues, is its focus on the principle of dialogue and participation between all concerned, specialized and responsible parties within the economic and social community, by intensifying meetings and promoting participation in all study discussions, with the aim of touching barriers in a close and intensive manner.

“Accurately diagnosing the facts gives accurate results when identifying solutions,” he added.

Special sessions of the forum will aim to generate practical suggestions and solutions to help with economic decision-making and to establish the principle of dialogue and participation among sectors of the business community.

In July 2019, the REF held a panel discussion at the chamber’s Riyadh headquarters on a study detailing the role of balanced economic development in reverse migration and sustainable and comprehensive development in the Kingdom.

Its focus was to identify the obstacles preventing the movement of young workers between towns and big cities, as well as highlighting ways to improve the quality of life in small urban centers through an analytical survey of industrial and service resources in different regions.

Al-Shuwaier noted that the forum was special in bringing together a broad range of intellectual and practical minds from government and private sector organizations covering many fields.

He added that the chamber was working on the final touches to transforming the forum into an independent economic think tank that served national economic issues.

Ajlan Al-Ajlan, chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), which organized the event, said the forum’s main objectives included using scientific studies and methodology to identify issues affecting the national economy, analyzing constraints on economic growth and working to combat them by learning from the experiences of other countries.

He pointed out that the forum coincided with the Kingdom’s presidency of the 2020 G20 summit of global leaders, being held in Riyadh in November, and that the eyes of the world would be on Saudi Arabia.

The forum is one of the participants in T20, an official G20 engagement group, with four topics related to important sectors discussed by the group.

The opening ceremony of the REF was followed by a session on future jobs, administered by Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh. Delegates discussed employment requirements linked to the fourth industrial revolution and how to tackle the prospect of 40 percent of jobs becoming obsolete due to mechanization in the farming and industrial sectors.

The session highlighted that education should go hand in hand to prepare students for the jobs of the future.

Forum data showed its previous eight sessions attracted 33,938 attendees, an average of 4,243 participants per session.

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Ahmed Al-Khatib, Saudi minister of tourism

Updated 33 min 42 sec ago

Ahmed Al-Khatib, Saudi minister of tourism

Three newly appointed Saudi ministers were sworn in before King Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The ministers included Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal as minister of sport; Ahmed Al-Khatib as minister of tourism; and Khalid Al-Falih as minister of investment.

On Tuesday, many Saudi state entities governing investment, tourism and sport were promoted to full ministries as part of a major Cabinet reshuffle.

King Salman ordered that the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) be transformed into a ministry with Ahmed Al-Khatib as the minister of tourism.

In January 2019, Al-Khatib was appointed as president of the SCTH. He also served as the chairman of the board of directors of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), chairman of the board of directors of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), as well as chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD). 

He has more than 25 years experience in the financial services and investment sectors, and has particular expertise in establishing, managing and restructuring government and corporate entities. 

Al-Khatib is a former adviser to the royal court, was the minister of health between 2014 and 2016, and served as the chairman for the Saudi stock company established in 2006, Jadwa Investment.

He has 23 years of experience in banking. In 1992, he joined Riyad Bank, working in various departments for 11 years and helping to establish the customer investment department. 

In 2003, Al-Khatib joined Saudi British Bank (SABB) and participated in the establishment of Islamic Banking (Amanah). He then became the bank’s general manager.

Al-Khatib received his BA in business administration from King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, and subsequently a diploma in wealth management from Dalhousie University in Canada. 

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